Better times

Late in Ball Four, Jim Bouton’s iconic book about his 1969 journey to remake himself as a knuckleball pitcher, Bouton finds himself traded from an expansion team that never was comfortable with his new pitch to a pennant contender that suddenly thrust him into a start.  Bouton went out and pitched ten innings, only to lose a heartbreaker as a result of a couple of fluke hits.

Alone, in the wee small hours of the morning, back in his hotel room after the loss, you might have expected Bouton to be crushed by the experience.  Instead, he felt nothing but joy and elation.  His belief in his course of action to remake his career was validated and that, for him, overcame any sadness over the immediate outcome.

I imagine that’s something of what Kirby Smart feels this morning.  Certainly I feel something of that.

Yeah, the way things ended last night stings.  But consider this:  in its last two games of the season, Georgia took the best offensive team in college football, fronted by the Heisman Trophy winner, to overtime, won, and then, a week later, took the best defensive team in college football to overtime and barely lost.  I can’t think of too many football programs that could have shown as well.  Certainly that’s not something I would have expected from this team before the season started.

In the end, Alabama was the better team and my hat’s off to Nick Saban for that.  The reason his team was better was because of more depth — how many teams could bench a starting quarterback with a 25-2 record and get away with that? — and because it was in a setting with which it had far greater familiarity than Georgia did.  Those are both correctable shortcomings, if you’re Kirby Smart.

Just keep chopping.

Advertisements

118 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

118 responses to “Better times

  1. 202dawg

    Last night I was devastated (and mad). This morning I am hopeful (and sad for our seniors). What a ride. Love all of you crazy folks.

    Like

  2. Biggen

    With the way Kirby is recruiting, I have no doubt that we won’t have another 30+ year drought before we play again in a NC game. Our time will come guys.

    Like

  3. Thanks for carrying us along on this great season. You’ve made it even better with your insight and by giving us a place to interact.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. glcdawg

    well said , Senator, well said….

    Like

  5. markclegg

    Dooley Womack? ????

    Like

  6. JasonC

    Great perspective. Like 202 said, my only pain is for the seniors. You won’t find better players than Sony Michel and Nick Chubb and there were a lot of guys that were huge this year. Kirby said it himself, they set the standard really high and we’ll need the next group of guys to step up big time, to keep this going.

    Like

  7. 79 dawg

    It was a tough thing to watch. But unlike previous losses I too felt a sense of optimism. I don’t have that ” lucky to be there” feeling anymore. I feel like we belong in games like this. And I believe will reach the top. Go dawgs

    Like

    • 3rdandGrantham

      Well said. 100% right…this program is going nowhere. CFB better get used to UGA being one of the top programs from here on out.

      Like

  8. Jim

    No doubt the future is bright. What I’m struggling with is that it was there for the taking and we couldn’t take it. Winning the Conference and a playoff game ain’t easy to do again.

    Absolutely unbelievable that Alabama put in a true freshman for his first real playing time in the 2nd half of the NC game…and he delivered.

    What a great season. I wonder what Kirby’s off season to-do list is this year. Replace a bunch of team leaders is the biggest one I’d bet

    Like

  9. Turd Ferguson

    Yes, Alabama’s depth made a difference. But equally important is the size and strength of their guys. I agree that things are changing at Georgia, but the disparity between their athletes and ours still felt very big last night. And judging by the preview we got of some of their younger guys, they’re going to be significantly better next season. This was probably the most beatable Alabama team we’ll see during Saban’s tenure, and we let it get away.

    Maybe the sting just hasn’t worn off yet, but I keep wavering between “Kirby’s going to get this program up to Alabama’s level” and “Our only hope is for Saban to leave.”

    Like

    • And all this whining about play calling doesn’t even take this into account.

      Like

    • paul

      A lot has to happen to get an opportunity like this. Some of Georgia’s best and most talented teams never got the opportunity to play for a national championship. Just because we get bigger and better doesn’t mean we get a shot. Other teams get bigger and better too. Scheduling, off the field issues and injuries take their toll. You have to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right guys, be healthy and be prepared to seize your moment when it presents itself. Alabama was and we weren’t. We blew coverage on the most important play of the game. Simple as that.

      Like

    • Yurdle

      I’m not so sure about this. Look, nobody thinks Alabama’s cupboard is bare, but they are graduating a ton of talent and experience. They are deep at RB and WR (though they lose Ridley) and they have a budding star at QB. But that DL is moving on, along with several LBs and DBs. Our OL has already pulled even, and our RB depth is equal. Our QB is a star himself and Fields is in the fold. In a year or two, our starting 22 and maybe our 2-deep will be a statistical push based solely on the guys already signed and committed.

      We still have to out coach them, though—but Pruitt’s gone and more are leaving. And can’t you hear the recruits thinking “how long until Nick hangs it up?”

      I’m not saying “we want Bama,” but we found out last night that the received wisdom about Bama’s talent superiority is already overblown. Ten years into the Saban regime, they are still better. But what was once a chasm has shrunk to a creek in two years.

      Like

      • Russ

        I agree. I didn’t see a huge difference in talent. There were times our OL handled their DL, and other times they handled us. Our DL pretty much handled their OL. We need help in our secondary. And our receivers played well, especially with Wims out. Our Ridley beat their Ridley.

        My concern is there is still an amount of luck required to win the NC. We were very lucky in terms of injury this year. Hopefully strength and conditioning plays a big part, but anyone can get hurt.

        We will be back soon, though.

        Like

      • Turd Ferguson

        I honestly hope you’re right. But at this point, I don’t see how anyone can say something like “that DL is moving on, along with several LBs and DBs” referring to Bama, with a straight face. They’re always losing a ton of defensive talent … and always replacing it with guys who are just as good, if not better.

        Last night, one of their third string OLBs (the one who punched one of our guys, and then had a tantrum on the sideline) tackled Mecole Hardman with one arm, while being blocked by another one of our players. And it looked like Hardman had run face first into a brick wall. This third string OLB, by the way, is 6’5″ and 241lbs. This is what I’m talking about. We’ve got a few physical specimens in our starting lineup; they’ve got them at every single position, and three-deep.

        Like I said, I agree that the gap is narrowing. I just don’t think we’re anywhere near as close (yet?) as some would like to think. People can bitch about the play-calling all they want — I agree it wasn’t great last night, especially in the second half — but if the opponent is bigger, faster, and stronger than you, you’re going to lose.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Turd, this is spot on.

          ‘Bama had true freshmen contributing in major ways all over the field. Don’t forget they were down a starting offensive lineman, two ILBs and Jennings, and didn’t miss a beat in the trenches.

          Like

          • ASEF

            And lost a 1st round LT first drive of the second half. Tua ran that offense minus 2 OL starters – because the backup LT and RG combine for 9 stars. Yeesh.

            Like

            • Stevie Wonder

              And yet, it took a busted coverage in OT for them to beat us, after being down 20-7. They have more depth than us (all those years of #1 recruiting count for something) but I didn’t see a huge talent gap on the field last night. Another top class for us will address the depth. We’re right there.

              Like

        • Turd: hit the nail right on the head. It is going to take awhile for anyone to catch up with these guys. And as a resident of Alabama, I truly hate saying that.

          Like

      • paul

        I have no doubt that we’re closing the gap in significant ways. My concern is that simply being a better team doesn’t necessarily get you to the championship game. There are a lot of other factors at play, many of which are beyond the control of any coach or program. You have to snatch these opportunities when they are within grasp. When we’re in the middle of it we all think there will be another day, another chance. After all, we got this one didn’t we? Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out the way we hope. After 1980 the Dawgs got close a couple more times. We believed Georgia had arrived. But then we fell into a long period of mediocrity punctuated by occasional glimmers of success. Things change. It can happen faster than we imagine.

        Like

    • dawgman3000

      “This was probably the most beatable Alabama team we’ll see during Saban’s tenure, and we let it get away.”

      You could also say that this was the most beatable team Kirby will have.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It hurts me on a fanbase to fanbase basis. We just wanted one…..a taste. And a dude with 4 in the hand came and took it. It’s like the antagonist in a horror movie killing all the good guys in the end.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ben

        I saw someone use the biblical imagery of David and Jonathan to talk about Hurts and Tua (I’m not even going to try to spell his last name), and I though, “That makes UGA the Goliath in your story, and everyone knows that Alabama is the bad guy, unless you’re Alabama,” and that’s exactly what happened.

        The killer thought his victim had escaped, but he found a new weapon to do the murdering, and it sucks so bad.

        I don’t buy any of this “We’ll be back” stuff from any of you or from Leitch because, as has been noted, there are no guarantees. Meyer is a good coach with lots of talent, and he’s one a single title at OSU. Spurrier was really good, and he only won one. Stoops had, what, a single title? Alabama is the anamoly, and we had a chance to get one, and we missed it. We may pass this way again, but we might not, and it hurts worse than I could have imagined, especially since I’m young enough (old enough?) for this to be the first time I’ve seen the team have a chance like this (save for 2012).

        Like

    • JPDawg

      Maybe the sting just hasn’t worn off yet, but I keep wavering between “Kirby’s going to get this program up to Alabama’s level” and “Our only hope is for Saban to leave.”

      That’s the only nagging part right now. Good God, is Saban going to keep doing this for another 10 years? If he does, our program can be as good as it will ever be and we still might not get a shot.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. paul

    I’m not worried about another 30+ year drought, I will literally be dead by then. I do worry about a five year drought. Like the one we experienced from 2012 until now. I just hope we don’t have to wait for all these guys to be gone before we truly get over this loss.

    Like

  11. 3rdandGrantham

    Well said, though Elvis is dead and I’m not feeling so good myself. In all seriousness, what made the game such a heart breaker is we led throughout, and if just a small number of plays (or calls) would have bounced our way, we would all be celebrating this morning. The four plays in particular that stick out to me: Fromm’s horrid INT immediately off the pick, the off-sides on the blocked kick (game is over if the play stands and we go up 16-0 or 20-0, Tua’s scramble on 3rd and long when we had him in the grasp, and the 4th and 4 for a TD, in which our defender came literally within an inch of knocking it away. If just ONE of those four plays goes our way, IMO we are champs today. Ugh.

    More so, when Bama missed the easy FG to win, I thought that finally the football gods smiled upon us, and we were going to win in OT (even though our D was totally gassed, with a sputtering O.) Speaking of our O late, where the hell was Michel in the 4th quarter? He got 1 carry early, and the rest of the game was Chubb, who struggled badly all night. That, and the conservative play calling, along with some bad decisions/throws by Fromm, did us in.

    Now, I know we are all in mourning, but here is the good news: we weren’t supposed to be here this year; we won the SEC; we have the #1 recruiting class coming in; Saban is inching closer to retirement; we are back in the spotlight and are considered a major power; Bama had a clear physical edge over us that quickly is closing; it was a great game and not a blowout (in which everyone would have discounted much of what we accomplished); we won the Rose Bowl, and our team/talent level will only improve from here. Oh, not to mention that the sun came up today. I almost think of this season as winning a 50K off a lottery ticket, in which you then are given a chance to scratch off a final square that could turn it into 250K, but alas, you come up empty.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go treat myself to some Popeyes chicken today as a way of consoling myself. Call me crazy, but leftover pita and hummus probably won’t add much comfort.

    Go Dawgs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sides

      The blocked kick was a bad call but the play would not have resulted in a block. It was either a false start by Bama (re-kick 5 yards back) or defensive offside (he was clearly offside but drawn by a false start). The result was a re-kick (which should have been 10 yards back) but it also resulted in a nice return so there wasn’t much lost as a result of the call.

      Like

      • Brandon M

        Watch the replay. He was off the line when he jumped and was a good half yard on the ride side of the ball when it was snapped. I have no idea what the ref looking right down the line was looking at because it was clear he was not offsides. Blocked punt would’ve changed all the momentum in the game.

        Liked by 1 person

        • 3rdandGrantham

          To be fair, a correct call on that play would have been false start on Bama, in which they merely would have been backed up 5 yards.

          Like

        • Sides

          Watching live I thought he was clearly offside. The reply shown on all the UGa sites show him onside but I am not sure the camera angle is on the LOS. I would like to see an overhead shot like we saw in the game but I couldn’t find it.

          Like

          • Uglydawg

            just keep hitting the pause button and watch where his feet are when the ball is moved. he’s still behind the 25 yard line when it’s moved and still on the Dawg side of the Los when the ball is gone.
            And Derek is right..the ref threw the flag after the block.

            Like

        • Cousin Eddie

          the ref that made that call was on the Bama sideline, he was probably helped with the call.

          Like

    • ugafidelis

      I may go to Popeye’s today myself.

      Like

    • Uglydawg

      Good post, 3rd..My “four plays that changed the game” are ..the blocked punt,(at least a three and probably a seven point opportunity lost), the ignored facemask that would have given us a first down, the no call on the head slap to Fromm that would have given us a first down (and good FG range at least), and the PI call on third and long that gave ‘Bama a first down and eventual points instead of having to punt..
      Other negative plays were actually made by players, so I won’t bitch about them. They are the ones that are supposed to be effecting the game with good or bad play.The four I mentioned are on the refs.
      Great Dawg effort all in all!

      Like

  12. merk

    Last week, Chaney is awesome. This week Chaney is full-retard again. Chaney is chaney and he did solid all year. The big thing no one hating Chaney for this morning will probably consider is that UGA lost it’s security blanket WR late in the 2nd Quarter. Yeah Chaney got conservative here and there, but he also made some ballsy calls. The issue was that Bama’s D-Line broke our O-line. On the upside, we are getting even more solid O-line recruits to help ensure that is not a problem going forward.

    Like

    • Here and there? HERE AND THERE???

      THE ENTIRE FOURTH QUARTER!!!

      Like

      • gastr1

        I’d take into account what Herbstreit said last night, that Pruitt was baiting Fromm into changing the play to a running play. I’m pretty sure this happened in the OT on first down.

        You know, the formula ALL YEAR was to get ahead, then wear them down in the second half with fresh backs. Every other time we got the lead, we did this and it worked going away.

        Hindsight is 20/20, but we did the same thing we had done all year and this it didn’t work, and it was too late for Fromm to get back in rhythm.

        Like

        • AusDawg85

          I agree with this. We stuck to our formula and did not execute.

          Everybody admit it…we prayed for a miracle and it was delivered. Problem was, same went for them.

          Like

    • Erk's Forehead

      Chaney is our weakest link. Has been since he stepped on campus. Our offensive production this year has as much to do with the athletes than Chaney. How many times have plays seemingly imploded only to see Sony or Nick create magic. Chaney’s greatest liability he brings to the table isn’t making constant bad calls as much as bad calls at critical moments. And lay off the stupid OL excuses. Our OL is good. And has proven to be so.

      Like

  13. This loss is 100% on the gutless, cowardly play-calling of Jim Chaney, who went away from EVERYTHING that was working in the first three quarters and decided to play-not-to-lose instead.

    Sony Michel touched the ball only FIVE TIMES in the second half.

    If Jim Chaney is not fired, we know Kirby is not truly interested in winning, but in protecting terrible coaches. Be honest… Saban would fire Chaney today. We all know it. We all also know that Chaney was saved by the talent underneath him time and time again this year. He’s who we thought he was: Terrible at Pitt, terrible at Arkansas, terrible at Tennessee, and Tiller ran the Purdue offense.

    This team, these players, and this fanbase deserves better than Chaney, and we will never win a title with Chaney at OC. Never.

    Like

    • Matt, get real.

      This game was lost in the trenches. Da’Ron Payne was ridiculous all night.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So going away from everything that worked for the first three quarters and slamming Chubb into the middle of the line in the fourth quarter over and over, while only letting Sony touch the ball five times in the entire second half… that had nothing to do with?

        Come on, Senator. Chaney stopped doing what worked and instead, called plays-not-to-lose. And we lost. Blame goes where it belongs, and it belongs with Chaney.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Cousin Eddie

          The play calling was questionable but this,”If Jim Chaney is not fired, we know Kirby is not truly interested in winning,” come on man.
          Who is to say Kirby didn’t tell him to go conservative?
          I would never think Kirby is not interested in winning.

          Liked by 1 person

        • JPDawg

          Are we even sure Chaney’s dictating substitutions? Who’s to say that McGee isn’t deciding who’s in and who’s out from the sidelines?

          Like

    • Mark

      “If Jim Chaney is not fired, we know Kirby is not truly interested in winning, but in protecting terrible coaches. Be honest… Saban would fire Chaney today. We all know it. We all also know that Chaney was saved by the talent underneath him time and time again this year.”

      This is possibly the biggest steaming pile of horse[poop] I have read this football season. Kirby doesn’t want to win, huh? That’s ridiculous on the face of it.

      Oh, and while I am at it, kindly restrain yourself from telling me what I know. I most assuredly do not know that Saban would fire Chaney today, and neither do you. I most assuredly do not know that “…Chaney was saved by the talent underneath him time and time again this year.” Neither do you. Those are your opinions. So present them as such. But leave me out of them.

      Like

    • D.N. Nation

      “we know Kirby is not truly interested in winning”

      lol

      Like

  14. Saltwater Dawg

    They played better enough at the end, no doubt. Nothing but pride for the Dawgs this year.

    I will say this though. I have never been a Bama hater, and honestly haven’t watched them very much. I have discounted what the Aubies and other rivals always bitch about.

    But as impressed as I was by their depth, size, speed, talent and game planning, the sour taste for them grew as the game went on. And I’m doing my best to say this without being a sore loser.

    First hats off to Saban for reaching a level where no ref will throw a flag against them.
    – The blocked punt would have dynamically changed the game, and we were clearly not offsides. Though 2 of their players moved early.
    – The facemask should have sustained a critical drive, as we were trying to get momentum back.
    – Roquan tackled from behind numerous times.
    – They weren’t very successful running inside, but the times they made the second level, there was at least one OL behind our guys with an arm wrapped around from behind every time.
    – straight-up punch another player right in front of the ref, and not tossed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Granthams replacement

      When I was a kid my dad told me to beat Alabama you have to beat the refs too.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Uglydawg

      Well said Salty.
      I’ve never been a ‘Bama hater either, but I have that same taste in my mouth this morning. You stated it very well.
      It really is as if the refs are afraid of Saban, although I have no idea why they would/should be.

      Like

    • W Cobb Dawg

      You forgot the personal foul against Wilson, for pushing Fromm in the helment after the tackle just short of the first down marker. That penalty would’ve continued what had been a good drive.

      Like

    • Erk's Forehead

      I am a BamaHater. I wasn’t growing up in GA, as we never really played them and as all good southerners we respected the Bear. Then I respected Stallings. Then I married a girl from an Alabama family. She has become All-Dawg. Then 2008 happened. Y’all know the game I’m talking about. The one we lost 41-31. But every Bama fan in creation would have you believe we lost 41-0. We were pre-season #1. Alabama stopped that ascendency. Then 2012 happened which, had we won, we would have beat the dawg crap out of Notre Dame. And before that game Bama doesn’t have to win the SEC to rematch with LSU for the natty. The 2015 home game. And now this. Not to mention while AJ & Todd get slammed by the NCAA for tiny infractions, Bama moves through suit-gate, memorabilia-gate, wheels-gate, car-gate, drug dealing TE-gate without a sniff or slap on the wrist. Try having Bama in-laws and try not to abhor Alabama. It’s impossible. I despise them now more than Florida. More than Auburn. More than Tennessee. More than the nerds at the nats. Y’all need to let this hate grow within you for Saban & Aladamnbama. It will feed your soul. It’s healthy. Embrace it.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. TnDawg

    The team left it all on the field. Great effort and super season. I am disappointed, but very hopeful for the future. Go Dawgs!
    Proud of this team.

    Like

  16. This Georgia team is truly special.

    SEC champions
    Rose Bowl champions over the Heisman winner
    1st berth in the College Football Playoff
    Likely will finish number 2 in the final rankings
    13 wins for the 2nd time in school history
    Wins over every annual rival
    41-0 on Rocky Top
    42-7 at the Cocktail Party
    38-7 at the Trade School
    28-7 in the Benz vs Auburn
    Unbeaten vs. Notre Dame
    Likely the nation’s top recruiting class in 2018
    College football’s most prolific pair of running backs
    1st time ever Georgia had 2 1,000 yard rushers
    Georgia’s first Butkus Award winner
    2 consensus Freshman All-Americans (Jake Fromm and Andrew Thomas)

    All of this in only Kirby’s 2nd year. I could keep going, but we’re just getting started.

    Thanks for the ride, Dawgsl I’m ready for September.

    Like

  17. Mary Kate Danaher

    I highly recommend this article from our friend Will Leitch. Sums up a lot of what the Senator said above. And also, thanks Senator for a great season. I owe you a couple of drinks for all the pleasure this place has brought this season.
    http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/264446974/georgia-fans-national-title-heartbreak-alabama

    Liked by 1 person

  18. jimdawgactworth

    I saw a few issues with the strategy:
    1- Thought should have shaded help to Parrish who was obviously being targeted
    2- Wasted 18 offensive plays with calls to Chubb-he added nothing-should have adjusted to Sony + Swift + Holyfield
    3- Got conservative with the lead, no deep throws in the 4th quarter, too many run calls- Fromm needs to have the ball in his hands

    Like

    • Normaltown Mike

      i hate to say it, but I thought the same thing on Chubb.

      Love the guy, but the OL was opening very small windows and Sony seemed better able to get through them for 4 or 5 yars.

      Like

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Chaney wasn’t doing Chubb any favors. Chubb is an inside power runner. Forcing him to run on the edges/outside is just plain dumb. Even moreso against bama’s D.

      Not using Sony more in the 4th quarter was just plain stupid. Chaney has had great moments at times this year. The 4th quarter of the championship game wasn’t one of them.

      Like

  19. Brandon

    Central Florida is my national champions.

    Like

  20. merk

    You want to beat Bama? You have to have a good or great O & D line. You also have to be able to run the ball (Ie RB or mobile QB) and have stellar QB and/or WR play. We had a solid Oline, but still not quite great as Bama showed. That should improve next year. We will definitely take a small step back in the run game, but Swift, Holyfield, and cook should be better than most teams RBs. The big thing is QB & WR play. We had a true freshman and we had medicore WR outside of Wimms. This will change next year for one reason, FROMM. How many times was it stated that he worked as much as he could with Wimms? If he had that drive as the back-up, imagine the drive he will have as the starter. I expect him to help bring along Godwin and Ridley into being very good (they are right there) and hopefully will be able to turn another mediocre WR into something special.

    Like

    • Godwin, Mecole, and Ridley were excellent last night. Godwin and Hardman have been pretty darn good for most of the year.

      Like

      • Russ

        Agreed. Our receivers were every bit as good as theirs last night. And our DL more than held their own against Bama’s OL. Their DL was dominant, though we still had moments against them.

        Bama had to scratch and claw to win on the last play. I don’t see this huge talent gap that others are seeing.

        Like

        • I totally agree. We knew we were questionable in the back end on defense even with our experience. We knew we would have to scratch out a running game against their d-line. I would have loved to have knocked them off the ball in the 4th.

          We did everything we needed to win the game … it wasn’t quite enough.

          Like

  21. Tronan

    Count me among the disappointed. The game was there for the taking and the Dawgs fell short. The second half play calling was far too conservative, there were key breakdowns at the worst possible times, and – as so often happens to us – most of the breaks didn’t fall our way.

    This was the best UGA team I’ve seen since 2002 and it still couldn’t get over that final mountaintop. Yes, on balance, it was a great season, but I’m tired of the Dawgs being an also-ran.

    Like

  22. Doggoned

    Some facts (as I see them):
    We arrived early to the big dance; nobody, me included, thought we’d win the SECCG and make it to the final CPF game this year. Hopes and expectations mainly were to win the East. We overachieved, no doubt.
    While we turned out to be a very good team, we’re still lacking talent and depth in the secondary, along the offensive line and at receiver. All three of those weaknesses were exploited by Alabama on Monday night.
    Ultimately, while the referees certainly didn’t help, we lost that game because we couldn’t pick up a couple of first downs when we needed them late and because we couldn’t cover their wide receivers.
    It hurts bad this morning, worse than in 2012 for me, but we seem to be headed in the right direction, with the right recruits coming in. Hard to say, however, that it doesn’t feel like UGA Deja Vu all over again. I hope we finally reach the top of this mountain. Go Dawgs.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. addr

    I honestly believe our guys just ran out of gas, emotionally and physically. So many units punched above their weight this season, and after playing an extra game against a tough opponent in the SECCG and the Rose Bowl, they came crashing back down, especially the offensive line and secondary.

    In the end, we couldn’t out-Bama Bama. I’m proud of this team and the coaching staff for squeezing every ounce from this season, and against maybe any other team it would’ve been enough to finish the job.

    Also, I know everyone is hailing Saban as some 27D chess genius for putting in his freshman quarterback, but call it what it was: a desperation move that couldn’t have worked out better. The fact that he even went there is testament to how much we had them on the ropes after the first half.

    The football gods have a mighty cruel sense of humor. From Fromm’s Matt Ryan-esque helmet pick, to Tua inexplicably shoving off a 4 defender gang tackle from our best defensive players to convert on 3rd and long, to Bama’s missed GW FG, to Parrish’s massive blown coverage on the final play after a probable game winning sack, I’m not sure how they could’ve broken a Georgia fan’s heart any worse.

    Last note on the officiating: yes it was horrendous, and I don’t think there is any doubt it influenced the game, and not in favor of the Dawgs. That sucks, but it doesn’t matter. Georgia had multiple opportunities in the 2nd half to put this game away, but didn’t make the plays.

    Like

    • sniffer

      Discussing the qb change with a roundtable of Dawgs, the thought morphed from desperation move to Daboll and Co. seeing something in our secondary that they believed they could exploit with Tua. Its called vertical pass routes. Hurts isn’t a passer, Tua is, and they “knew” what they were seeing. Bama was desperate for a change, but they made a move that they believed in, not one they hoped for.

      Like

  24. jimdawgactworth

    Javon Wims injury was huge. Our other guys stepped up but the timing wasn’t there on key plays.

    Like

  25. Bigshot

    Everybody was all happy and think better times were coming after Mark Richt’s 2nd year and we see what happened there. Why will this be any different? It is UGA’s lot to always be a runner-up.

    Like

    • dawgtired

      “Why will this be any different?”

      Recruiting. Talent depth. An OCD coach. Improved support from admin. Other SEC programs down.
      I’m hopeful the level of these things will remain for a while.

      Like

      • Stevie Wonder

        Yep, I agree. Recruiting is big (for talented depth), and Kirby’s OCD made sure all the areas needing work this year received it, while not backsliding in other areas. To me, the future is bright, but we’ll see next fall and the one after that.

        Like

  26. Brad

    Maybe for the second half of the Rose Bowl Georgia was the best offensive team in the country and the first half last night we were the best defensive team in the country. Great season for the Dawgs and fans. We will be contending again. I enjoy reading your blog, I appreciate your insight and wit.

    Like

  27. Normaltown Mike

    I woke up (though I hardly slept) and reached the same conclusion. Bama was clearly the better TEAM last night. DOesn’t take the sting out that we had them on the ropes and coulda shoulda but after 60 mins there was no doubt in my mind that we are a few years away from having the kind of talent they field.

    Sigh. At 41 I just hope I live to see a mnc (I was too young to care in 80).

    Like

    • Kdawg

      You took the words out of my mouth on all of your points.

      Like

    • paul

      1980 was my senior year at UGA. We watched Herschel from the tracks. Cherished memories. Erk and Larry are dead and I’m running out of time myself. We had the brass ring in our grasp and let it slip away. Damn good Dawgs all of them. But that was difficult to watch.

      Like

  28. TampaDawg

    https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2018/1/8/16866514/georgia-alabama-referees-missed-calls-national-championship-facemask

    This surely helped to erode our margin of error, or increased Bama’s. Such is football, I guess. Great season, unfortunate finish. Excited for the future, though.

    Like

    • HahiraDawg

      This was huge.
      I’ve been around sports a long time, rolled my eyes a ton when peeps complain about officiating, but this is the angriest I’ve ever been if possibly the only time I’ve ever been truly angry.
      Shameful. Makes me hate the Big10 more.

      Like

  29. BosnianDawg

    I feel your sentiment, Senator, but I kinda worry about us not getting another shot for a while. Think about all the special one-off things that happened this season. Chubb, Michel, Carter, Bellamy, and Sanders forgo the NFL and return for their senior seasons. We get Kevin Butler, a record breaking and Super Bowl winning kicker, as a graduate assistant. Jay Johnson, former Minnesota offensive coordinator, as a quality control assistant. Scott Fountain, former Auburn special teams and tight ends coach, as a special teams analysts. These guys are all going to be gone. Very few major injuries or off-field issues with players getting the majority of snaps. The lone exception to this, Eason, turned out to work in our favor. It’s impossible to say but I don’t think we would have gotten here with Eason as our starting QB. It feels like the stars lined up just right for this season to turn out the way it did and I wonder if the team can produce at the same level when all of these things aren’t in place. I very much hope I’m wrong and that we reload and come back even stronger next season but I simply don’t quite feel that way.

    Like

  30. AthensHomerDawg

    It took Saban 3 seasons to win an SECC and get to the NC game. We’re ahead of schedule. Go Dawgs!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Tommy

    In 2012, we tried to be David to their Goliath – the only way anyone’s ever beaten them, and fell short. This time, we played their game, bullied them up front, and nearly beat them at it. No one’s done that. Bama clearly had no experience at being beaten at their own game. They blinked. They pulled their starting QB.

    My point is that, last night, and from here on out, the challenge of beating Bama will be about beating an equal team, not outsmarting a better one. We have the #1 recruiting class for 2018 and are lining up the #1 recruiting class in 2019. We have a coach who has shown he maximize our AD’s return on investment in him.

    Bama will still get theirs. But peak Bama is behind us.

    Like

  32. Geezus

    I’ve said since we won the east that we were playing with house money –
    winning the east was my expectation this year. At the beginning of the year, I predicted we’d lose to Alabama, but I expected it in the SEC-championship game. The Dawgs FAR exceeded my expectations and I’m proud to be a fan. It was a hard loss, but to a very talented team.

    I do wonder how #48 stayed in the game after punching the GA player. I thought that was an auto-ejection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ugafidelis

      Total garbage.

      Like

    • Russ

      And how did the Bama player not draw a flag from the official right there when he tackled Fromm and then shoved his head down as they were getting up?

      Like

      • ugafidelis

        That was another one that was total garbage. I’m proud as Hell of our boys for maintaining their composure in both of those situations and not getting drawn into a street brawl with them.

        Like

  33. Navin Johnson

    Thank you, Senator, and everyone here. Having this community adds to the richness of my Dawg fan experience, and makes days like today a little easier. Go Dawgs!

    Like

  34. Charlottedawg

    I’m sorry but that game sucked. It seemed like the sequel to the 2012 seccg and last year’s super bowl: where the best a team from Georgia can hope for is to almost beat a championship organization but that our best teams in decades cannot win what the Alabama’s, new England patriots, new york yankees of the 90s you name it see as an almost annual event. I’m proud of these guys and I know when the season started none of us expected a national title game appearance but this morning in the aftermath i definitely feel cursed.

    Like

    • Hardcoredawg 93

      There is no such thing as a curse. It does not exist.

      Dawgs have a great team. Bama has a great program. What Bama has, is what Kirby is building. Will be more huge games in our future.

      At some point, though, we have to slay Bama.

      Like

    • willypmd

      The difference in that game is theyvwere one play better. This year we were 5-6 plays better, the refs just closed the gap for them.

      The better team lost last night. It took a helluva coaching decision by the best ever, several breaks, and bad officiating for them to win.

      What’s scary is where this program is headed.

      We will see Bama in Atlanta next year and our offensive line will not be starting 2 true freshman and the smallest LT in the league (not a shot at Wynn either, he had a hell of a year, but Thomas is going to be an upgrade at LT)

      We may not make the playoffs next year, but we may. this program is about to take off

      Like

      • I thought Wynn had a better game last night than Thomas did.

        Like

        • willypmd

          Wynn graded at 86%, Thomas at 80% last night. Interior line was rough…

          I was really trying to say that our OL is probably going to get bigger and stronger and presumably better next year and that I think a sophomore Andrew Thomas may out perform what Wynn did this year. That is more a compliment to what i believe Thomas will be, than a shot at Wynn who I thought was a leader and very good

          Like

  35. WF Dawg

    I could parse all the reasons why we lost or should have won or will likely win in the future, but I really just got on here to say that I’m brokenhearted over that loss. It was a nightmare scenario to me, almost unimaginable to think that we could outdo 2012 for painful endings. I slept fitfully last night, if any at all. And I know that you people, of all those in the world, will understand how I feel. There’s a rational part of me that knows that I’ll find solace one day in the comforting things some of you are saying, but that day is not today. The thing I’ve thought about every day for the better part of two decades was within our grasp last night. And we let it slip away. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” And I’m heartsick.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Jared S.

    So many things have been analyzed about the lost and so many things have been pointed out as reasons why we lost. Complaints about Chaney abound and no one including me was satisfied with the officiating….. however….

    If I was going to pick one single aspect of the game that was a miserable failure it would be our overall tackling in the second half.

    WRAP SOMEBODY UP. I was hoping it was my imagination as it kept looking like when we had chances to tackle players in open space we were trying to go for the ball instead of wrapping them up. And they were eating us up for first downs.

    Then the sideline reporter Maria said that Mel Tucker had told his guys they needed to “get the ball out.” Uh. What?

    Where can I see some stats on yards after contact for Bama, first half versus second half?

    Like

  37. Bulldog Joe

    Kirby states it well.

    Like

  38. Alex

    Yes we ahead of schedule. Yes a few different bounces and we win. But depsite everything that happened, we lost on a broken coverage. Something that was in our control. 2012 felt worse to me because they rammed it down our throat in the second half when we knew it was coming. That didn’t happen last night.

    Bama used the loss to clemson as their fuel for this season. The way we lost will fuel our 2018 campaign.

    We are going to get there. I believe.

    Thanks for all your work on this venue Senator. I have spent many an hour here over the years. You do good work.

    Like

  39. As a number have stated, one will have to get 3 or 4 years of number 1 recruiting classes to play a similar style of Bama football and beat them. The depth is stunning and Payne was beyond stunning. Line of scrimmage, line of scrimmage, just keep repeating, depth, and just plain superior athletes won and lost that game.
    13-0 first half, 26-10 second half and OT, 19-3 fourth QT and OT.
    On the officiating, worse call to me was the missed face mask on Swift in the 3rd QT.

    Like

  40. Hobnail_Boot

    I admire those of you who have the ability to be rational today.

    I’ve been heartbroken many times over UGA football, but this is the first time I’ve been truly angry about a result.

    Like

  41. We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

    Well said, Senator. But as a (relatively) younger fan, let me offer a different perspective.

    I’m 29 years old. My earliest memories of Georgia football are during the latter stages of the Ray Goff era. I’ve seen a lot of great Georgia football teams, but I’ve never seen us win a national title, despite coming achingly close on multiple occasions. I know this 37-year-old monkey weighs heavily on all of our backs, but at least you older fans can say you’ve seen the Dawgs reach the pinnacle of college football. I haven’t, and therefore I still feel a certain lack of unfulfillment in my fanhood.

    There’s no doubt in my mind Kirby will get us back in this position. But, to be honest, I’m just so tired of waiting. We were so close to reaching the summit of Mount Everest last night, and now we have to wait eight months just to attempt the climb all over again.

    It’s such a hollow feeling to come so far and leave empty-handed. The future is bright, no doubt, but it feels so far away on a day like today.

    Like

  42. Yeah, surrre

    Senator, I am elated to learn that Ball Four is a source of wisdom for you, too. It’s been one for me — for better or worse — ever since I got a copy as a 12 or 13 year old when it came out as a paperback back in the early 70s. I’ve probably read it a dozen times since then. And I even went to that game that Bouton started, which the Braves won on a hit by Bob Tillman.

    Thanks for taking us through this great season. It’s been awesome to go through it with someone who shares a passion, a perspective and a set of cultural references.

    Now let’s go out and pound that Budweiser.

    Like